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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(84) by Anne Bishop
  • Theran caught a movement out of the corner of his eye and turned to see Cassidy coming toward him, her hands clenched and a look on her face....

    “You coldhearted son of a whoring bitch!”

    She rammed him with a force that knocked him into the wall.

    Instinct and temper took over, and he shoved her hard enough that she would have fallen if Ranon hadn’t caught her. She shook off the Opal-Jeweled Warlord Prince, and the expression on Ranon’s face would have been amusing if the woman didn’t look ready to kill someone.

    “You made such a point of family, you bastard,” Cassidy snarled. “The family wing was to be off-limits to the court because this had been the Grayhaven family home.”

    “Why are you so pissed about that now?” Theran shouted.

    “Because he’s family!” she shouted back. “But you stick him in a damn gardening shed, don’t even let him come in for meals, all because someone hurt him, scarred him so he isn’t perfect anymore, and you won’t accept anyone or anything that isn’t perfect, will you? Well, you’re not perfect either, Grayhaven. Far from it.”

    Theran looked at her in disbelief. “This is about Gray?”

    “YES,THIS IS ABOUT GRAY!”

    She used Craft to enhance her voice, and that shout rattled the windows. And brought everyone running.

    “Shit,” Ranon said softly, turning and raising a hand to stop the men who rushed into the room from the other door.

    “Jared Blaed Grayhaven,” Cassidy said with a kind of cold anger that put a chill down Theran’s spine. “Family, isn’t he?”

    “We’re cousins,” Theran replied cautiously. He wore Green. She wore Rose. He wasn’t in any danger. Not from her. But he couldn’t forget right now that she had the backing of the kind of power that could wipe Dena Nehele and its people out of existence.

    “Cousins,” Cassidy said. “But he’s not good enough to be family, is he? Not good enough to stay in your precious house.”

    “He can’t stay here.”

    “Why?”

    Something snapped inside him. Something that had festered for a lot of years. Something that cut him every time he’d heard that desperate keening.

    “Because he was tortured here,” Theran shouted. “Here, in this house. For two years they beat him and hurt him and did things he only remembers in nightmares. And do you know why they did that? Because they thought he was me! Because that bitch thought she had captured the last of the Grayhaven line, and she savored every wound she inflicted.

    “And he never told them they’d caught the wrong boy. Never told them he wasn’t Grayhaven. Jared Blaed. That was his name then. Cousins through our mothers, who could trace their line back to Thera and Blaed. He protected me in the only way he could for two years.”

    Theran turned, paced, circled. Wanted to beat her with words.

    “Do you think I want him out in that damn shed? No, Lady, I don’t.” He blinked back the tears stinging his eyes—and refused to see the tears in hers. “But he’s terrified to come into this house. He won’t even come to the kitchen door to get food. We bring it out to the stables for him. He had to come with us. We couldn’t leave him in the mountain camp, even though the other rogues up there were willing to look after him. But he’s in that shed because it’s the best he can do. All he can tolerate.”

    Cassidy squared her shoulders and raised her chin. “I’m sorry for that. I didn’t know. But that doesn’t change anything,Theran. He is your family, and he will have a room in the family wing.”

    “Haven’t you been listening?”

    “I don’t care if he never sets foot in this house or never sets foot in that room, but he will have a proper room in the family wing, just like you and Talon. He will know it is there if he wants it. And if he’s more comfortable staying in the shed, then it will be fixed up.”

    “We can’t afford to be—” Theran began.

    “This isn’t a suggestion, and it’s not a request,” Cassidy snapped. “This is an order, Prince. Get it done.”

    She started to turn away, then turned back. “And I think we should agree on a division of labor from here on in, Grayhaven. You do what you can—and I’ll do what’s important.”

    She turned to leave the room—and Ranon skipped out of her way, raising his hands in a gesture of surrender. The other men who had come in scrambled to give her a clear path to the door.

    “Hell’s fire, Theran,” Ranon said softly. “That woman is pissed.”

    “Yeah,” Theran said. “I guess she is.” He felt shaky, as if he’d clashed with an enemy far more deadly than he’d expected.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire